Sustainable soils by using compost
Maintaining and optimizing soil quality in the tree nursery sector in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom and the north of Germany. The past decennia the soils in agriculture, and also in the Hardy Nursery Stock sector and in the cultivation of bulbs , has decreased in quality. In all the nurseries chemical fertilizers were used and large amounts of herbicides. Recent scientific studies show that by the use of these products complete chains of soil life are destroyed. Organic matter levels dropped down to very low levels of 1,5 till 2 %. Organic material is however the base for good soil life like fungi, bacteria, protozoa and nematodes.
Specifically this means that the amount of organic matter in these soils is less than optimal for plant growth. The soil life is often out of balance and is less present. The soils often lack different nutrients and trace minerals which are important for plant growth. Because of the lacking balance in the soil, there are more problems with all kind of diseases and soil bound diseases. Problems with other diseases and pests can also be the result of this lacking balance. Scientific research showed that a good balance in the soil of nutrients is very important for healthy growing plants.
Organic matter content is also very important in absorption of water. Water and nutrients don’t flush to the ground water so fast when the percentage organic matter in the soil is higher.
Last two-five years some Dutch tree nurseries, which are ahead of the other tree nurseries in this area (the precursors), work more and more on optimizing the soil, actively increasing the organic matter and soil life. This group of nurseries is growing, but is still small. Also bulb growers in the West and north of the Netherlands face the problems with the soils and the challenge to increase the organic matter levels. Growers in, United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden talk about this development just recently. That is why we like to start this project in these countries.
Another important reason to start this project is the development of good compost in the countries mentioned. In the Netherlands there are some companies which produce good compost. To improve the soils and increase soil life and the percentage of organic matter, the application of good quality compost is important. In Denmark, Sweden but also in the United Kingdom a defined quality compost to improve the soil is not or almost not available in larger amounts. But starting material is available to develop this compost. Compost produced in ex Denmark is often made by adding slurry from wastewater cleaning stations. The pH is very high and content of potassium and phosphor can be very high like some of the heavy metals. The microflora composition is not helpful in bringing a soil back into a wanted balance. There is a need for initiation of a marked for quality compost that can be used in optimizing soil and other purposes like growing trees in urban areas and substituting peat in with compost in container growing of trees and bushes.
Looking at the carbon emission the following results can be seen:
- Less transport for getting the compost on the right location.
- Using compost increases the organic matter in de soil very slowly. In this process CO2 is bound in the soil.
- Plants needs CO2 as nutrient. Good healthy plant growth will increase the uptake of CO2
- Production of compost delivers a small amount of Co2 to the air.
Water rich Countries and legislation
All countries around the North Sea have to take the legislation for Water management of ground and surface water into account: The Waterframe Work. This project will play an important role in reducing the use of chemical fertilization and the use of chemical crop protection and the flushing of these products to the ground- and surface water. The big challenge is the same for all the participating countries.
Green waste of communities
For the communities green waste can be made profitable and renewable by using it in the process of compost development. As a result of this project local communities and nurseries will work together.